Bill Workman is still the football coach at Orange Coast College and that’s a testament to his dedication to the school and his love of the game.
If Workman took a hiatus--or retired--it would be understandable, considering all he has dealt with recently.
The trouble started in the spring of 1994, when he had back surgery and spent the summer recovering. An auto accident followed in the winter of ’95 and his lawsuit against his insurance company is ongoing.
But the big blow came last April when Workman, 57, had surgery for prostate cancer and was told it would take at least a year to fully recover. He returned to work two months later.
Workman also has spent considerable time helping his parents, who are in their early 80s.
“You add all that up,” Workman said, “and you should not be coaching football. Not on this level with the commitment it takes and against the competition we play. But I just can’t go out on the note we struck last year.”
That note was a 1-9 record, not including a forfeit victory OCC subsequently received from Pasadena. Workman has a record of 60-63 in 12 seasons at OCC. He was 51-32 after eight years with the Pirates and had taken his team to three bowl games in four seasons, including a victory over Antelope Valley in the 1993 Simple Green Bowl. That was OCC’s first postseason victory in 18 years.
But the number of students in the district--coaches cannot recruit outside their district--and the college’s athletic budget have shrunk, contributing to the team’s 9-31 record the last four years.
District rival Golden West, which shares the same 16 high schools with OCC and many of the same problems, is 11-27-2 during the same span.
But Workman, who is in his 26th season as a head coach, including 13 at Edison High, didn’t believe it was the right time to leave.
“Those would have been two catastrophic things: cancer surgery and giving up what I love,” Workman said. “Without football, now what? People might think that’s sad, but coaching is still fun and it’s a challenge. It’s never the same and that’s what I like about it. That’s why I’m doing it.”
Workman was told last December that cancer had been detected, but he only shared that information with family members.
“When I first found out,” Workman said, “I thought that was it. I was just going to hug grandkids [he has four and a fifth on the way] for however long that was going to be. Then as time went by, I learned more about my situation.”
The news was good.
The cancer had been caught at a very early stage. He went ahead with his recruiting while considering the next step of treatment.
The surgery was his 14th, but the previous 13 were for sports-related injuries. It went well, and Workman says he is on the way to a full recovery.
Now, he hopes to concentrate on football.
OCC returns six defensive starters and figures to be much improved.
Workman isn’t planning a retirement speech as long as his health permits him to continue.
“I think most coaches that are 57-58 or in that area,” Workman said, “have some idea when they are going to do something different.
“But I want to keep going. I want to get back to winning. I’ve got 20 sophomores and I don’t feel like going any place.”